Algeria tightens as Kotoko break away
© AFP

Orlando Pirates are the new leaders in South Africa while USM Alger are knocking on the door in Algeria. Unlikely Tunisian pacesetters CA Bizertin are under threat, but in Ghana giants Asante Kotoko are seemingly on their way to the title.

South African Premier League: Pirates steal top
Mamelodi Sundowns have finally been usurped from the top of the standings, but only because they are scheduled for midweek action. Defending champions Orlando Pirates used the opportunity to go three points clear, turning the pressure firmly on Sundowns with just over half-a-dozen matches to play.

Big game: Pirates have remained steady in the league despite a change of coach in recent weeks, but they needed a dramatic last-gasp winner from Namibia international Rudolph Bester to beat bottom-placed Jomo Cosmos 2-1 on Easter Monday. Pirates had got off to a quick start through Bongani Ndulula, returning after several weeks absence because of the suspension of Benni McCarthy, before his goal was cancelled out by Siyabonga Nhlapo.
Headline-grabbers:
Two more goals for the 34-year-old Siyabonga Nomvete makes the Moroka Swallows striker now the top scorer in the league. He got both away at Ajax Cape Town to force a 2-2 draw and move his personal tally to 12. It has been a champagne season for the former Udinese winger, who has been a catalyst in propelling his side into championship contention.

Algeria Ligue 1: USMA close in
Entente Setif did not play in the league at the weekend, but they still retain the lead - if only by one point. USM Alger beat JS Kabylie 1-0 to edge closer to the leaders, although they have now played two more matches. JSM Bejaia took over third after winning away, but displaced ASO Chlef, who are the defending champions, have a game in hand.

Big game: USMA’s Lamouri Djediat scored after 22 minutes to settle their clash with JSK and lift the club above 40 points. But it was no easy win as the visitors raised their game after the goal but failed to find an equaliser. It was at the same ground one month ago that USMA had eliminated JSK from the Algerian Cup. Perennial contenders JSK have had a disappointing campaign and are in the bottom half of the table.
Headline-grabbers:
Footballing exports from Madagascar are few and far between but Carolus Andriamatsinoro is making a name for himself. Of sorts, that is, because the Algerians seemingly cannot bother with his lengthy name and call him ‘Andre’ or 'Carolus' instead. He scored twice at the weekend in a four-goal haul for WA Tlemcen over CS Constantine that has them now up into fourth place and within five points of the leaders.

Ghana Premier League: Porcupines extend lead
Asante Kotoko have a ten-point advantage, but had to come from a goal down to win their latest match. Hearts of Oak are back in second after beating Wa All Stars and so are more hopeful ahead of their meeting with Kotoko next weekend. Third-placed AshantiGold do not play until Thursday when they meet Berekum Chelsea, who were in Casablanca at the weekend securing progress in the CAF Champions League.

Big game: Kotoko’s relentless march to a record 22nd league title, continued in Tarkwa as they beat relegation-threatened Wassaman 3-1. The home side had taken the lead through Evans Nyarko, but the Kumasi-based club came back to equalise thanks to Ben Acheampong near the half-hour mark and then took the lead just before half-time via Michael Anaba. Burkina Faso import Idrissa Sacko got his first goal for the Porcupines to ensure the three away points.
Headline-grabbers:
Laryea Kingston's return home to Ghana after a long career in Europe continues to reap dividends for Hearts of Oak. He got the first goal of their 3-0 weekend win over Wa All Stars. James Abban and Sadat Karim added two more for a comfortable win for the Phobians.

Tunisia Ligue 1: Bizertin now under threat
CA Bizertin face the possibility of losing their early season lead in midweek to defending champions Esperance. Bizertin is in front by just two points after failing to win at bottom side Olympique Beja. Their goalless draw opens the door for Esperance, who were in CAF Champions League action at the weekend. But Esperance have a tough derby awaiting against long-standing rivals Club Africain.

Big game: Bizerte were blunt in front of goal in a cagey affair at Beja, and although they remain unbeaten, the match saw them without much of their early season momentum. Bizertin have won ten of their 13 games this campaign and were on a run of three successive wins, but they left disappointed by the setback.
Headline-grabbers:
Amine Kammoun scored both goals as US Monastir inflicted defeat on struggling CS Hammam-Lif. He was the only player with a double at the weekend, both goals coming in the first half of a 2-1 triumph.

Elsewhere
Burkina Faso
have finally kicked off their league after a dispute delayed the start and will now try to play out the first ten rounds in the next six weeks. Vilankulo are the surprise package of the MocamBola in Mozambique, unbeaten after their first four games and up to third place. Kano Pillars are the new leaders in Nigeria after they beat Kaduna United.